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In The Kitchen with Bret Thorn

Sam Fore showcases her style of Southern food influenced by Sri Lanka at Tuk Tuk Snack Shop in Lexington, Ky.

The chef operated pop-ups before opening a brick-and-mortar space


Sam Fore recently opened her first restaurant, but she has been on the professional food scene for years.

Of Sri Lankan heritage but born and raised in Lexington, Ky., Fore got her start doing pop-ups at festivals in 2016. The food was a mashup of the spice palette of Sri Lanka with the foods of the South. Her ribs drew the locals, then her fried chicken started to attract crowds, and her tomato pie became something of a viral sensation. Soon she was working as a guest chef at high-end restaurants across the country. She demonstrated her techniques at prestigious food events such as the Culinary Institute of America’s Worlds of Flavor conference, and was even a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for best chef in the Southeast — possibly the first time that honor was given to a chef without a restaurant.

But now she does have a restaurant. Tuk Tuk Snack Shop opened in Lexington last week, and shortly before opening she discussed her journey and what she has learned along the way.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

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